Newswise — On the last Saturday in February, hundreds of high school students and volunteers of all ages convened at the Technology Building on the Columbia Basin College campus in Pasco, Washington. Outside, the weather was brisk. Inside, however, 21 teams of students from across Washington State were heating up for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) 32nd annual Pacific Northwest (PNW) Regional Science Bowl, a full-day event hosted by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). Each year, the winning team from the region goes on to compete at the National Science Bowl (NSB).

This year, a former junior high and high school NSB competitor, Arpit Ranasaria, returned to serve as a moderator. His brother, a former NSB competitor as well, joined Arpit in addition to his entire family, who also volunteered for the event. As a junior at Stanford University majoring in computer science, with a minor in geophysics, Arpit has seen his share of competitions. In 2016, his junior high team (Redmond Middle School in Redmond, Washington) won the PNW Science Bowl and tied for fifth at the national competition. In 2018, his high school team (Redmond High School) also won the PNW Science Bowl and finished seventh nationally. This year, he returned to experience his love for NSB from an organizer’s perspective, largely rooted in the desire to help younger students experience the same joy he had when competing. This year’s winning team was from Tesla STEM High School in Arpit’s hometown of Redmond; they will be competing in the 2023 National Finals.

Arpit found his love for competition in elementary school, when he watched his brother compete for the first time in a science bowl competition.

“My older brother lit the fire. When I saw him compete, I immediately responded. I wanted to participate in this fast-paced, high-stakes, game-show-like science competition. It was something I started studying for; I knew I would enjoy competing,” explained Arpit.

Since then, he’s taken his love for competing and notched it up. As a senior in high school, he started the Science Olympiad Invitational at his school and founded Mustang Math, a non-profit organization of high school and college volunteers dedicated to promoting the spirit of collaboration among middle school students around the word by piquing their curiosity in mathematics. For the past two years, he’s been the director of the Stanford Math Tournament, a global math competition for high school students.

DOE sponsors the NSB competitions, with all the questions citing the work the national laboratories are doing—from math and physics and earth and space science to biology and chemistry—just to name a few. Arpit says this format helped him learn a lot about DOE’s research.

“It’s incredible work, and really shaped my love for science. NSB gave me a love for competitions, which has grown into a love for education and teaching,” he shared. “When I talk to parents and students about National Science Bowl participation, I say the same thing: It’s a wonderful way to be curious and learn more than you would in your traditional science class.”

Arpit uses this passion to inspire students. He’s found he can take what he has learned from past competitions and share it with teams and community members to help them understand how cool science is and the opportunities students can have within the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)  community.

“Opportunities like Science Bowl are a way PNNL invests in the STEM experts of tomorrow. The moments created for teams as they work together to solve interesting questions and challenging problems equips them with a passion to pursue science careers,” explained Director of the Office of STEM Education and Chief Diversity Officer Evangelina Galvan Shreeve. “We want every student to feel a sense of belonging in STEM and to know they have a place and future in STEM careers.”

STEM Education at PNNL

Inspiring and developing future careers in science, technology, engineering, and math is part of PNNL’s mission as a DOE national laboratory. The Regional Science Bowl is one of many efforts by the Office of STEM Education to build opportunities and ignite interest among the next generation of STEM experts.


About PNNL

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory draws on its distinguishing strengths in chemistry, Earth sciences, biology and data science to advance scientific knowledge and address challenges in sustainable energy and national security. Founded in 1965, PNNL is operated by Battelle for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit For more information on PNNL, visit PNNL's News Center. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.